News & Multimedia

Chambliss Rallies to Qualify Eighth for Sunday's Red Bull Air Race

Two-time Red Bull Air Race World Champion Kirby Chambliss rallied during the second half of qualifying to post the eighth-fastest qualifying time for the inaugural Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

Chambliss will face Canadian Peter McLeod in the first round of the race, which is held in a three-round knockout-style format with pilots paired against each other while racing against the clock. 

“It’s an elimination process,” Chambliss said. “I’ll try to put down a really good time and put that pressure on him and hopefully, he’ll make a mistake. He’s pretty fast on this track. If you’d have said ‘pick someone you want to go against,’ he’s probably not who I would’ve picked, but it is what it is. We’ll go out and do our best to beat him tomorrow. “ 

Chambliss had a consistent run in the second of Saturday’s two qualifying attempts to improve his seed for Sunday’s race, posting a time of 1 minute, 4.516 seconds. Japanese pilot Yoshihide Muroya was the fastest qualifier at 1:02.073.  

Chambliss struggled on his first run, incurring three penalties that cost him five seconds – one for having an incorrect angle going through a gate (planes must pass through them at less than a 10-degree angle) and another for flying too high through a gate. His first run’s time was 1:08.015 – the 13th-fastest among the 14 pilots. 

He said the difference came in the timing of making the plane turn through the course, which requires split-second timing to slalom from gate to gate. 

“We had a pretty good run,” Chambliss said of his second run – noting the difference between the two times was four seconds in penalties. “I was a little bit surprised (about the penalties). You’re trying to make the airplane change directions as fast as you can. If you’re waiting to be in the gate to put the control in – the airplane rolls 500 degrees a second – you’re going to be too late. 

“There’s a balance. You want the control input in, but the airplane hasn’t had a chance to react until you go through the gate. The timing has to be right, and maybe I was just a little bit off. I want to do well here. Maybe I was just a little heavy-handed.” 

The pressure of winning at a home race can be big, as Muroya noted. He is the lone pilot to win a home race, which he did in Japan. 

“For me, there is a lot of pressure, but it’s a lot of fans pushing me to go forward, maybe the same as Kirby,” Muroya said of racing in his home country. “Kirby is always really relaxed and really easy. For him, it is a very powerful race.” 

He’s enjoying the opportunity to run for the first time at Indianapolis, a new circuit on the Red Bull Air Race series. 

“I’m super-excited about being here,” Chambliss said. “The history of this place. It’s all about racing, and that’s what we’re here for. The fans are super-excited. It’s always good to race in the USA. It’s a double-edged sword to be in your home country. It’s fantastic – you’ve got family and friends and a little more media, but you’ve got to balance it out. Once you get in the plane, you’ve got to push that out and challenge for that win.” 

Chambliss described Indianapolis as a tight layout, but the more technical it is – and the more precisely pilots have to fly – the better things will be for him on Race Day. While the forecast is for light winds, a day with pilots flying on-edge can break his way. 

“This course, if we have a 15-knot tailwind, it could make it a big challenge,” Chambliss said. “I tend to do best when things start to crater and guys fall under pressure and they hit gates and make penalties" 

Show More Show Less
Items 317 - 321 of 530